September 27, 2023

The world of agriculture has been undergoing a tech makeover in the past decade, and the adoption of open-source technology into the mix has further accelerated this transformation. From cost-saving advantages to flexible applications, stakeholders in the supply chain are reaping the benefits of this innovative approach to software and hardware development.

According to a report, the smart agriculture market is set to grow at a remarkable CAGR of 9.4% from 2023 to 2028, with open-source technology playing a crucial role in this anticipated expansion. It is helping agritech companies enhance and propagate precision farming, making it more accessible to a wider pool of consumers than ever before.

How Open-Source Tech Aids Agriculture?

Due to the accessible nature of open source, different dev communities within the agritech sector can take existing source code and tweak/edit it as per their needs or improve upon it. This results in accelerated problem-solving and makes open-source much more accessible and flexible than proprietary alternatives. 

Open source’s impact can be seen across: 

  • Education and training: Open-source technology offers farmers easy access to information, online platforms for self-paced learning, virtual training programs, and collaboration opportunities. Organisations can use open-source technology to offer free online courses, videos, and other training materials to farmers in developing countries. 
  • Infrastructure: Open-source technology is helping improve agriculture infrastructure by enhancing it with precision farming tools which are easily customisable and cost-effective. 

One example is using open-source hardware and software to gather data on crop growth and soil conditions which is then analysed to help farmers make better decisions about irrigation, fertiliser application, and crop management. 

  • Community: By enabling farmers and stakeholders to collaborate on shared projects, ideas, and resources, open-source fosters a sense of community. This enhances industry trust and camaraderie, resulting in people wearing different hats coming together for one common goal.
  • Collaboration: Collaboration and knowledge-sharing in the agricultural value chain are fostered by the use of open-source technology. It enables data sharing of weather patterns, crop yields, soil conditions, insights into emerging trends and more, all beneficial for improving the sector. 

Organisations can bring together farmers, agritech companies, and other stakeholders to collaborate on developing open-source data platforms that can be used to improve the efficiency and sustainability of agriculture. 

  • Cost savings: The utilisation of open-source technology in agriculture enables farmers and other stakeholders to access software and hardware tools without incurring the high costs associated with licensing fees and proprietary systems.

Open-source precision agriculture tools, built with affordable off-the-shelf components and freely available software, can help farmers monitor and manage crop growth, irrigation, fertiliser application and more, leading to increased yields and minimising wastage of farm inputs. 

  • Integration with existing systems: By utilising APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and SDKs (Software Development Kits), it is possible to incorporate open-source technology into current systems and hardware. 

For example, an open-source weather data API or SDK can be used to integrate real-time weather data into a precision agriculture system to optimise irrigation and fertilisation schedules. This integration can improve the performance of the system and allow for real-time optimisation based on the latest weather information. 

  • Localisation of technology: The flexibility of open-source technology allows it to be tailored to meet the particular needs of various regions and communities. For example, AI built on open-source algorithms can be used to identify plant diseases which are local to a specific region.

By adapting to local needs, app devs can make the technology more accessible and relevant to farmers, demonstrating the potential of open-source technology to empower and serve diverse communities.

Open-Source Technology in Indian Agriculture

The rise of IoT devices, 4G (and now 5G) technology and tech-savvy consumers in India has made the transition into smart farming a lot easier in recent years. This has also set the stage for the use of open-source technology which offers various benefits to stakeholders including farmers i.e. access to education and training, infrastructure improvement, collaboration opportunities, and the ability to tailor technology to local needs. Agritech players can leverage this approach to cater to these needs and at the same time make precision farming an industry-wide practice in the years to come and push the needle towards Agriculture 2.0 faster. 



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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